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Irene Velazquez
 
IreneIt has been a year and a half since I had two total hip replacements. I had them both done at the same time at the Arthritis Institute in L.A. My double hip arthroplasty was done by Dr. Lawrence Dorr using the latest technique he developed utilizing computer navigation to minimize the trauma associated with the operation.
("Computer-Assisted Total Hip Replacement with posterior mini-incision" - NR)
Dr Dorr selected and installed a larger femoral head in each hip replacement which was specifically designed to restore full range of motion with dancers and athletes in mind. My replacements are made of titanium and weigh 1½pounds each. They are expected to last over 30 years.
 
I'm especially happy with the results of my surgery because the Park Avenue orthopedic doctor which diagnosed my condition told me I should forget about dancing. He told me that hip replacements are for walking not dancing. So much for great bedside manner.
 
I saw Dr. Dorr on a TV special called Miracle Workers. Before performing a double hip replacement on the choreographer featured in the show, Dr. Dorr told him that he was going to have him dancing again. Having also had his own hip replaced, Dr. Dorr was very sensitive to the needs of his patients.
 
Dr. Dorr was also recommended by a dance teacher I had studied with, and another dancer, that I knew from class, on whom Dr. Dorr had successfully performed his surgery.
 
Hilary worked with me before the surgery to strengthen the muscles which I would need during my rehabilitation and then she helped me recover quickly after the surgery was performed.
(Hilary Cartwright, who had undergone her own hip replacement, and who not only is a master gyrotonics instructor, but also was a ballet mistress of the Royal Ballet in England.-Irene)
 
Instead of guessing at how much bone to cut, by using the computer, Dr. Dorr is able to precisely measure the minimum amount of bone that must be removed in order to allow the damaged portion of the hip or knee to be removed easily. Use of the computer also allows the surgeon to place the replacements in the position closest to the patient's natural anatomic design which minimized the wear rate resulting in the replacement lasting longer than would normally be the case. Dr. Dorr also dramatically reduced my recovery time by clamping my muscles instead of cutting them.
 
At the Arthritis Institute, they also have a program for patients under 65 which allows them to leave the hospital the same day if they have a single total hip replacement.
 
In Dr. Dorr's opinion, use of the computer has so increased the surgeon's accuracy and precision that it should be used as a standard surgical instrument by surgeons throughout the world.
 
I do not know if any hospitals in the New York metropolitan area are using this procedure, but if they are not, I am at a loss to understand why. I have heard that computers have been incorporated in the surgical procedures at the Hartzband Institute in Hackensack, New Jersey but do not know if Dr. Dorr's technique is used. (There are, in fact, many surgeons in the NYC area who do variations of computer-assisted minimally invasive hip replacement. -NR)
 
I believe my speedy recovery was due to Dr. Dorr's technique, but am equally certain that incorporating gyrotonics in my pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical recovery contributed as well. I continue to work with a gyrotonics instructor to this day.
 
Three months after my surgery, I was able to audition in character shoes for an instructional Salsa dance video. I got a call back and was placed on hold, but was later released because they decided to go with the younger ladies. That's show biz.
 
Four months after my surgery, I was back in ballet class, and shortly after was able to resume Jazz and musical theater classes.
 
Six months after my surgery, I was performing in two one-act plays with choreography.
 
I was dancing again!
 
My experience has shown me that many doctors are limited in their understanding of the dancer's body. They can't comprehend our fortitude, our dedication, our passion and our love for dance. I knew in my heart that I would never stop dancing whether it be on stage or in my own living room.
 
Going to LA from NY, with my husband at my side, was one of the best decisions of my life. We were there for 10 days. LA is a great place to recuperate especially since I had to walk every day as part of my rehab.
 
I highly recommend Dr. Dorr and his staff at the Arthritis Institute at Centinella Freeman Regional Medical Center in Inglewood, California:
www.dorrarthritisinstitute.org
 
I wish good luck to all of your readers that are faced with this medical problem. To all of them I say, regardless what any doctor says, never stop dancing.
 
April 07, 2008
 
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